Tag: liberal arts professor

So You Want to be a Liberal Arts College Professor: Is there a Future for the Liberal Arts?

Last year I wrote a post titled “So You Want to be a Liberal Arts Professor.” At the time, I promised a series of pieces on the subject, but then my job as a liberal arts college professor got in the way…. Oh well. Among other things, I got mired in a faculty committee examining the future of the liberal arts, developing our college learning goals, and revamping the college’s distribution and graduation requirements.

Throughout the process, we spent a lot of time looking at the literature and debates on question of the relevance of the liberal arts in the 21st century – and especially on the instrumentalization of knowledge and the concerns about the practical turn in higher education.

And, while I’m concerned about many of the trends in higher ed – the corporatization of the academy and the emergence of a new managerial class — one thing that has struck me about much of this debate about the relevance of the liberal arts is how divorced the discussion tends to be from what many of us actually do in the classroom. Continue reading


In Defense of Teaching (and Grading) the Long Research Paper


There’s a Slate article titled “The End of the College Essay” circulating in various Facebook and Twitter circles critical of assigning long essays to undergraduates. The gist of the complaint mirrors the complaints I’ve heard over the years from students and colleagues (and others outside the academy) about assigning long research papers. Last summer, I attended a conference in Toronto on the future of liberal education in which a number of participants criticized the long-form research paper by noting that, unless students go into Ph.D programs, most will never write a long paper again in their lives. I heard from quite a few people who argued that faculty should give students assignments that reflect the new communication technologies and skills associated with those technologies — and, failure to do so, will only exacerbate the increasing irrelevance of the liberal arts.

I really disagree with all of this. Continue reading


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